Of course Rangers should have better players than many clubs in the lower echelons of the Scottish game. The likes of Lee Wallace, Lee McCulloch and Neil Alexander could grace the majority of clubs in the SPL and not look out of place. But the remainder of the first team squad will be made up of fringe players, youngsters and those Under-19s promoted to make up the numbers.
Of course the likes of Maurice Edu, Carlos Bocanegra and Dorin Goian are still contracted to the Ibrox club but for how long?
The most important part of Rangers Football Club when it comes to footballing operations is the playing staff. There will be cuts and contracts will be renegotiated, but the major cuts will come away from the playing staff.
With Rangers dropping to the Third Division, the TV money that the SPL clubs were handed will no longer be available to Rangers. The financial incentives of finishing as winners or runners-up in the league are far from significant in the Third Division. Lee McCulloch would earn more in two weeks than the winners of the Third Division would receive. Rangers have already seen a number of sponsors walk away including Central Car Auctions who reportedly have invested a six figure sum in the club. The Herald reported a number of weeks ago that a taxi firm had also withdrawn its sponsorship thought to be around £70,000.
Certainly small change to a club of Rangers stature – in the Scottish Premier League. But in the SFL Third Division every penny helps and they must now make that little stretch a lot.
Take the figures published by Duff & Phelps to all creditors of the club recently, the club are running at a loss and the debt will increase unless cost cutting measures take place.
For the period between the 14th February and 30th March, Rangers brought in just over £1,000,000. This was made up by ticket sales, programme sales, hospitality, food and beverage, as well as the obligatory stadium tours. However for the same period they saw expenditure hit £3,617,165. In just over a month, the club lost £2,596,931.
Last season Rangers had 37,367 season ticket holders, recent figures published in the mainstream media show Rangers have struggled to sell season tickets and have not hit four figures as of yet. Of course many Rangers fans were awaiting news of which league the club would be placed into, but the lack of information coming out of the club in terms of ticket prices is just one reason behind the fans keeping their cash in their pockets. Who would pay £470 for a season ticket to watch their club in the Third Division?
Third Division season tickets barely muster around £200. Stirling Albion are selling their season tickets for season 2012-13 to their fans for £150 (maximum price). Clyde likewise are selling their ticket briefs to fans for £150 and Queen’s Park are selling them for £160. Rangers will have to drop their ticket prices to around that level – and hope that the fans continue to donate to the Rangers Fans Fighting Fund.
So going by the expected ticket price drop then, that would have a significant impact on the income of the club – even if the season ticket holders stay at the same level. Ticket prices will not be the only thing that will have to be reduced. Hospitality prices, food and beverage prices would also be hit.
Therefore Rangers MUST look at their expenditure. If they have 40,000 fans showing solidarity and turning up every second week to cheer on their side against the likes of Clyde, Stirling Albion and East Stirling – then costs such as security & policing, staff expenses and medical costs cannot be ignored or done on the cheap.
Rangers paid out in the same period £204,538 in security & policing alone. Albeit this time of the season saw Rangers play Hearts and significantly arch rivals Celtic. While such costs would be reduced with no Old Firm derby, the number of fans in the ground would see a sizeable number of security staff either way. Health & Safety rules.
The staff selling programmes, food & beverage not to mention those in the hospitality suites would need paid also – and at least the national minimum wage. £6.19 – the main rate for workers aged 21 and over or £4.98 – the 18-20 rate.
There is also the important payments to PAYE/National Insurance as well as utilities.
So questions must be asked. Will those running Rangers Football Club (newco) open up every corner of Ibrox on match day for games in the Third Division? Are they guaranteed 40,000 fans every second week? Will they sell over 37,000 season tickets? Will the police and club stand in the way of selling tickets at the turnstiles on match days?
With the club last season increasing their debt by over £2 million in just one month with SPL revenue, what will the impact be with Third Division prices?
There are serious concerns around Charles Green’s ability to finance the day to day running of the Ibrox club without a sizeable investment from his so-called backers, not to mention the season ticket money revenue. And while it is certainly evident that all clubs in the SPL will be tightening their purse strings, Rangers will be doing likewise, otherwise the spectre of administration could hit once more.
Despite Rangers being a massive club, the fact that they are now a Third Division club means costs will be cut. There are no IFs and BUTs. It is a fact. The non-playing staff from departments such as PR, Media, Admin and even ticketing would be hit hard. Their wages are easily cut, unlike the four/five figures a week contracts of those in the playing staff.
Now what has all the above got to do with Rangers bouncing back and winning promotion year on year to secure their place in the SPL once more? To maintain a successful and sizeable squad to win championships even in the lower echelons of the Scottish game – money is needed.
With all respect to those clubs in the Second and Third Division, Rangers should sweep all opposition away with ease – although the youngsters must step up and handle the pressure from the fans demanding success week in week out. But the main obstacle will be in the First Division. A competitive league that no one is guaranteed promotion – even Rangers Football Club.
Of course it is all hypothetical, Rangers could hit the skids and remain in the lower leagues for more years than what they think they will, they might also be successful and gain a succession of promotions to secure their place in the SPL in four years time.
Rangers are 1-50 to win the Third Division, but one thing is very clear, Rangers cannot continue to run the club the way they are doing. They must live within their means and that leads to cost cutting and job losses. Sadly it is the little folk in the offices, who kept the club ticking over on a day to day basis that will be given the elbow, the same folk who were innocent bystanders in the fiasco that surrounded the club since Murray willingly sold the club to Craig Whyte.